If you asked me about running a month ago I’d probably have given you a wide-eye ‘are you mad?’ kind of stare. Now, I can’t wait to lace up my running shoes on a Monday evening and head outdoors, and I get even more excited for the high feeling I know that’s coming after.
Running has never been a word in my fitness vocabulary and it’s something most weightlifters are allergic too (as we don’t want it to affect our gains). But, with a new challenge to do my first HYROX in October, and 50% of the race involving eight kilometres of running, I really had no choice but to start. But, I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy it and, within a month, I’ve gone from doing no running at all to being able to run just over eight kilometres in 50 minutes. So how did I do it?
I’ll be honest, as with starting any new type of fitness venture, to begin with you have to just grit your teeth and bare it for a bit before you start reaping the benefits. Running, especially, because you can feel like you’re going to die. But, as with a lot of things, it’s a mind game. If you go into something telling yourself you’re not going to do it, you probably won’t. If you tell yourself you will, there’s a much higher chance of succeeding. The tips I offer below don’t refer to running technique – we’ve got our best running tips for beginners for that – but they are things I did and discovered over the past month that have helped me. Technique is one half of running, the other is getting yourself in the best mindset to help you believe you can do it in the first place. Here's what helped me.
1. Do a Parkrun
My brother’s girlfriend suggesting I do a Parkrun was one of the best things I could have done to help with my running. Starting anything can feel a little scary, but especially running as it’s often done in public spaces, so your local Parkrun is a great starting point to just get you going. You don’t even have to run all of it (I didn’t) you can walk, or do both. The volunteers are so enthusiastic, cheering you on as you run around and it just offers the right kind of energy and support if you’re a little nervous about starting.
2. Start off slow and gentle
My coach told me “don’t focus on the time, just go enjoy yourself”. His words couldn’t have been wiser. If you’ve never run before and you go in too hard too fast, the reality is you’re going to struggle and this is a one-way ticket to put you straight off ever running again. Not to mention you’re more likely to injure yourself. When I finally gave into this advice and wasn’t so caught up on my pace and finish time, I actually completed an entire run without stopping. Yes, I was slow, it was definitely a jog, but the satisfaction of completing it was far greater than puffing myself out and wanting to quit mid-run.
3. Pick a good playlist, but avoid crazy music
Choose your tunes wisely. Before heading out I’d make sure I found a playlist with really upbeat, fast, ravey music. This was the worst mistake I could’ve made. All it did was encourage me to try to run fast, as I was trying to keep up with the beat. A slower playlist will help keep you at a steady pace and won’t send you wild. Spotify even has running playlists for different beats per minute that help you run to the tempo of the music and keep you at a good pace, so definitely check them out.
4. Find a good route
I started off running on the treadmill, not only was it incredibly boring looking at nothing, but I'd constantly watch the timer on the screen. I then swapped to a cycle path in my village and it honestly transformed my runs. I was running amongst the trees, past little streams, it was just beautiful. It actually made me look forward to running and I'd forget about the timer. So, if you can run outside, do it. If you can find somewhere cute and local, even better. It's hard enough as it is, but if you can actually find somewhere nice to do it, it'll make the experience way more enjoyable.
5. Put a plan in place
Whether you’re planning to run for a race, or just for fun, following a plan can be incredibly helpful. Not just to track your progress, but to give you something to aim towards, which can motivate you more. They’re especially useful for those types of people who like structure and being held accountable to something (me). Following a plan and keeping track of my results using a fitness tracker and referring back to it has not only shown me how far I’ve come within the past month, but it’s also a great way to keep me motivated.
6. Wear running shoes
Trainers are trainers, right? Wrong. I thought I could get away wearing my Metcon 8s for my runs, I soon regretted this when I was left with the worst shin splints ever. Wearing the correct footwear will not only reduce the likelihood of injuries, but they'll make your runs more comfortable and if you're not comfortable, you won't be in the right frame of mind to run. We've got a great guide of the best running shoes, as well as tips on how to pick the right running shoes for you.